An anonymous donor wrote North Wildwood a $150,000 check this week for a new ambulance the city was planning to pay for by issuing bonds.
City Council President Pat Rosenello called it an “early Christmas present.”
The donor, who asked not to be identified, contacted Rosenello some time ago and expressed interest in somehow donating to the city, before settling on funding the ambulance purchase.
“I’ve been on council for nine years, and it was certainly the most pleasant phone call I’ve ever received,” Rosenello said.
The city receives donations regularly, usually in the form of people or organizations buying benches or giving to the Recreation Department.
“I can’t remember a donation of this size before,” Mayor William Henfey said.
The altruistic act comes at a time when the city could use some assistance.
“With (Hurricane) Sandy coming by, we certainly have a lot of issues we have to deal with,” Henfey said.
The city is buying an ambulance to replace the oldest vehicle in its emergency medical services fleet, which dates to 1998. The government has a full-time fire and EMS department, and the ambulances make thousands of trips a year, mostly in the summer.
“Other than police cars, they’re probably the most heavily used vehicles in the city,” Rosenello said. “We really need to stay on top of these vehicles.”
City Administrator Lou Belasco said the city will cancel part of a capital bond that was approved earlier this year to pay for the ambulance purchase. The vehicle has already been ordered and will likely be on the road in six months, since they are custom built.
The donation is the equivalent of raising more than a half-cent through taxes, Rosenello said. The city’s overall budget was $25.1 million this year, and the average homeowner pays nearly $2,000 in local taxes.
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